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Andrew Norriss is no longer visiting schools but he may consider a ‘Virtual Visit’ with a Q & A session via Skype lasting about 15 – 20 minutes for those who have read or are reading his books. If you are interested do get in touch. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Andrew Norriss Fact Cards (Teaching Ideas)
Answers to these questions are on Andrew Norriss’s website.
- Where were you born?
- What did you like best at school?
- Which authors and illustrators did you like best as a child?
- What are your favourite books now?
- How did you start writing?
- Where do you get your ideas?
- What is the best thing about being a writer?
- What is the thing you like least about being a writer?
- What is your favourite book of the ones you’ve written?
- What do you do as a hobby?
- What strange habits do you have?
- What do you day dream about?
- What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve done?.
- What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
- If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
- What quality do you most admire in a person?
- When did you last have a really good laugh?
- How long have you been a writer?
- Was there a specific moment in your life when you decide to become a writer?
- Where do you do your writing?
- What are the best and worst things about being an author?
- What do you do to combat “writers’ block”?
- What was your favourite book as a child?
- What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- Where do you get your greatest ideas from?
Andrew Norriss answered some questions asked by children in West Sussex when The Touchstone was shortlisted for the West Sussex Children’s Book Award 2005 – 2006.
Q. What inspired you to become a writer?
A. I’m not sure I was inspired. I just really wanted to do it and I’ve no idea why.
Q. When and where do you write your stories?
A. I work in what used to be the dining room and is now my study. I always work every morning – mornings are the best time – and I try to do the afternoons as well but sometimes I just go to the cinema instead.
Q. How do you think up your characters? Are any of your characters based on family or friends?
A. I think mostly the characters come from the plot and from the story. I’m sure I do use people I meet but I try not to make it too obvious.
Q. How many times do you draft a story?
A. I write the whole thing at least seven or eight times and it probably gets changed more than that. You have to work at a story.
Q. How much influence were you able to have over the covers of your books?
A. I was asked if I had any ideas or requests but I didn’t. I’m a duffer about art so I tend to let the publishers decide, on the ground that they know much more about what makes a good cover.
Q. What was your favourite book when you were younger?
A. C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books must be at the top of my list and my favourite was “The Magician’s Nephew”
Q. Who is the most amazing author you have met?
A. I am very proud to have met J.K.Rowling, who actually said two words to me (“Well done!”) at an author event. I was also really impressed by Michael Coleman, both as a man and an author.
Questions about “The Touchstone”.
Q. How did you think of the touchstone itself, and what picture did you have in your mind?
A. I had a dream in which I was walking through a large, spacious house with a cellar and a series of caves underneath the cellar. I cam to one of these caves and in the middle of it was a rock, and on the rock were lying the five green crystals of knowledge. I bent down to pick up one of the crystals, feeling that I was just on the cusp of learning a great secret, but at that point I woke up – much to my regret. That’s what gave me the idea of writing a story about a touchstone.
Q. Did you intend Kai to be a villain from the very beginning? If so, was it fun trying to mislead your readers?
A. I don’t think Kai is a villain. She is honestly trying to do her best and the point is that, like a lot of us who try to do our best, she gets it wrong. So I like her quite a lot. Killing Douglas was a bit naughty, I suppose.
Q. What inspired you to write about an alien from space?
A. I’ve always been a big fan of science fiction, and I’m quite sure that there are lots of aliens out there. So why don’t they call in? Perhaps they are just leaving us alone to work things out in our own way.
Q. Have you ever experienced being in a room for two days with a nasty smell?
A. No. I’d leave after the first few minutes!
Q. How did you come up with the name, “Quomp? Did the name inspire the character, or did the character inspire the name?
A. I never find names very easy, and he was called several other things first. I wanted a name that was easy to pronounce but strange enough to be an alien’s name. Finally, I came up with “Quomp”. His original name, I think, was R’var” – a typical alien-sounding name but not very easy to pronounce.
Q. What, for you, is the most important message of “The Touchstone”?
A. The messages come in layers but the absolute bedrock thing is that you need to work out exactly what it is you want in life – something that’s a lot trickier than it seems. If you don’t know what it is, you can’t hope to get it. You must find out what you really, really want.